Au clair de la lune

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Not to be confused with Clair de Lune.
"Au clair de la lune" from a children's book, c. 1910–1919. About this sound Play 

"Au clair de la lune" (French pronunciation: ​[o klɛʁ də la lyn(ə)], lit. "By the Light of the Moon") is a French folk song of the 18th century. The author is unknown. Its simple melody (About this sound Play ) is commonly taught to beginner instrumental students.


Chords, melody and words About this sound Play 

The song is now considered a lullaby for children but carries a double entendre throughout (the dead candle, the need to light up the flame, the God of Love, etc.) that becomes clear with its conclusion.

« Au clair de la lune,
Mon ami Pierrot,
Prête-moi ta plume
Pour écrire un mot.
Ma chandelle est morte,
Je n'ai plus de feu.
Ouvre-moi ta porte
Pour l'amour de Dieu. »

Au clair de la lune,
Pierrot répondit :
« Je n'ai pas de plume,
Je suis dans mon lit.
Va chez la voisine,
Je crois qu'elle y est,
Car dans sa cuisine
On bat le briquet. »

Au clair de la lune,
L'aimable Lubin;
Frappe chez la brune,
Elle répond soudain :
–Qui frappe de la sorte ?
Il dit à son tour :
–Ouvrez votre porte,
Pour le Dieu d'Amour.

Au clair de la lune,
On n'y voit qu'un peu.
On chercha la plume,
On chercha du feu.
En cherchant d'la sorte,
Je n'sais c'qu'on trouva ;
Mais je sais qu'la porte
Sur eux se ferma.

"By the light of the moon,
My friend Pierrot,
Lend me your quill
To write a word.
My candle is dead,
I have no more fire.
Open your door for me
For the love of God."

By the light of the moon,
Pierrot replied:
"I don't have any pens,
I am in my bed
Go to the neighbor's,
I think she's there
Because in her kitchen
Someone is lighting the fire."

By the light of the moon
Likable Lubin
Knocks on the brunette's door.
She suddenly responds:
- Who's knocking like that?
He then replies:
- Open your door
for the God of Love!

By the light of the moon
One could barely see
The pen was looked for,
The light was looked for.
With all that looking
I don't know what was found,
But I do know that the door
Shut itself on them.

In classical music[edit]

19th-century French composer Camille Saint-Saëns quoted the first few notes of the tune in the section "The Fossils", part of his suite The Carnival of the Animals.

Erik Satie quoted this song in the section "Le flirt" (No. 19) of his 1914 piano collection Sports et divertissements.[1]

The Pierre-Auguste Vafflard painting[edit]

In the 1804 painting and sculpting exposition, Pierre-Auguste Vafflard presented a painting of Edward Young burying his Protestant daughter-in-law by night. An anonymous commentator wrote those lyrics, which can still be heard instead of the classic "Au clair de la lune":

Au clair de la lune
Les objets sont bleus
Plaignons l'infortune
De ce malheureux
Las ! sa fille est morte
Ce n'est pas un jeu
Ouvrez-lui la porte
Pour l'amour de Dieu.

By the light of the moon
All things are blue
Cry for the misfortune
Of this poor soul
Sadly! His daughter is dead
It is no game
Open the door to her
For the love of God.

1860 recording[edit]

1860 phonautogram by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville is the oldest recognizable recording of the human voice, presumably that of its creator.[2]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

In 2008, a phonautograph paper recording made by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville of Au clair de la Lune on April 9, 1860 was digitally converted to sound by U.S. researchers. This one-line excerpt of the song was widely reported to have been the earliest recognizable record of the human voice and the earliest recognizable record of music.[3][4]

According to those researchers, the phonautograph recording contains the beginning of the second verse of the song, "Au clair de la lune, Pierrot répondit...".[4] It has also been reported that the recording contains the beginning of the song, "Au clair de la lune, mon ami Pierrot...".[5][6]


  1. ^ Davis, Mary E. (2008). Classic Chic: Music, Fashion, and Modernism. University of California Press. p. 87. ISBN 9780520941687. 
  2. ^ "FirstSounds.ORG". FirstSounds.ORG. 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  3. ^ Jody Rosen (March 27, 2008). "Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b "First Sounds archive of recovered sounds, MP3 archive". March 2008. 
  5. ^ "Un papier ancien trouve sa " voix "" (in French). 28 March 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2008. 
  6. ^ Jean-Baptiste Roch (13 May 2008). "Le son le plus vieux du monde". Télérama (in French). Retrieved 19 November 2008. 

External links[edit]